There is something we as humans try to argue about a lot. We want to justify our actions, our words, our crankiness, our feelings about the things around us and outside of us. We want to blame or find fault in our circumstances. It’s not our fault that we snapped! It’s because of the situation! And when we say or think that thought, we believe it and we somehow feel justified in our behaviors. But it’s just not the case.
Listen to president Eyring: “Difficult as circumstances may be, they do not relieve us of accountability for our actions or our inactions.”
Circumstances are neutral. Circumstances are anything that is out of your control, this includes what others do or say, how your kids act – yes, even those loud temper tantrums and extra challenging mom moments. Circumstances include when your car breaks down of your house is a mess.
Although we want to argue that it’s really not our fault. Ex: I only yelled at my kids because they wouldn’t get their shoes and get in the car already! We were running super late as it was!
I can’t believe that woman said ________________ about me! She’s just terrible! Did you know that she _____________…
My kids like to justify their actions sometimes because they really, truly believe it’s NOT THEIR FAULT! They HAD to do ________________ because their siblings did ______________. Yesterday I dispelled a loud arguing match between two of them because one teased the other and feeling frustrated and mad they reacted with yelling, which then led to the other yelling and fun times.
But in each of these situations (and I know you’ve got some of your own) it’s NOT the circumstance. It’s never the circumstance.
The kids not getting in the car with their shoes in a timely manner is NOT the problem. That is a neutral circumstance. The real problem is that you’re operating from fear or scarcity because you’re on a time constraint. If the exact same thing happened – meaning, the circumstance of the kids not getting in the car with shoes quickly on any other day where you’re not in a hurry, it wouldn’t be such a big deal. You may roll your eyes and think, “gah…kids!” But it wouldn’t result with you yelling at them in desperation to get out of the house and out to your next destination.
The woman that said something rude and offensive is NOT the problem. People say rude and offensive things about celebrities, public figures, and people all the time. It would be super debilitating for these public figures if they let each one of them bother them. At some point they had to just take it as a circumstance and not as a cause or inevitable reason to act out, to talk poorly about them behind their backs, or as a reason to show up as anything other than your personal best. No, I’m absolutely NOT saying that it’s OKAY. We wouldn’t WANT to feel happy about that behavior. But I AM saying that it’s not an inevitable cause for you to act out too.
I teach my kids (and teach them, and teach them, and teach them, and will continue teaching them) that what the other person does IS NOT a valid excuse or an involuntary reaction to retaliate. They’re young so we’ll have this conversation many, many more times but THEY are kids and still learning.
As adults we’re no longer kids. We’re mature enough to learn that we have agency and we can choose to operate as an emotionally healthy adult. We don’t need to react, retaliate, or respond negatively to the circumstances around us. As mature adults we know that we do HAVE A CHOICE. Before reacting, can you pause and see the situation as a CIRCUMSTANCE? As something neutral? Not good or bad UNTIL you decide that it is so?
“Accepting the power to change your life means admitting we cannot always change circumstances or the past, but we can change ourselves. It is within our control to change our thoughts, beliefs, perceptions, actions, and reactions. We create our experiences by choosing how we perceive circumstances and events around us.”
― Melissa Heisler
Since we know we can’t change or control others and what they do, we need to turn inward in those moments and decide who YOU want to be. How do you want to feel? Decide this ahead of time. Decide each morning what kind of person you want to be. Do you want to be loving? Kind? Charitable? Creative?
The circumstances don’t change this. They don’t “take this away form you”. You can still access love, kindness, charity, and creativity even when the circumstances aren’t what you thought they should be. When someone offends you, it doesn’t take away your ability to respond lovingly. You can PAUSE and ask yourself, what does love look like here? Maybe it’s walking away. Maybe it’s deciding that you’re going to forgive them because you know that it feels awful inside when you’re saying and thinking ugly things. I don’t know what love looks like for you, only you know that and you can access love always, no matter the circumstance.
If you decide you want to feel creative (that’s one of my top emotions of choice each day) then in each circumstance you can ask yourself how you can creatively go forward. When my kids are at each other’s throats, I need to use creativity to find helpful guidance to teach them and direct them to a more peaceful path. It doesn’t always “work” but my role as their mother isn’t to “make them successful” but to lead, guide them, and show them that love is an option. There’s a creative solution where both parties can feel better.
The important key element to remember is this:
“There is always a solution to any problem.
Find opportunities in any circumstance. Never become a victim.”
― Lailah Gifty Akita
You can make yourself the victim and tell yourself you’re only reacting because they “made” you but they didn’t. You chose to react that way. You can absolutely find opportunities in each situation and circumstance. It’s not always “easy” – in fact, your natural man is going to want to push back and argue and want to be offended, angry, negative, and wanting to take the victim role. But you don’t have to listen to your natural man side. Your can use that situation as an opportunity to choose a higher path, to show up as your best self.
It’s easy to show up as your best self when everything is going the way you want, when people are praising you, when your house is shiny. It’s much more challenging to show up as your best self when things aren’t going “your way”, when others are speaking or acting negatively towards you, and when your house just feels cluttered, messy, and unkempt. It’s also those times when you can find opportunity. When you can make yourself proud that you didn’t succumb to the circumstances around you. That your character is getting stronger and you’re becoming a better, healthier you.
Dieter F. Uchtdorf once said:
“No matter our circumstances, no matter our challenges or trials, there is something in each day to embrace and cherish. There is something in each day that can bring gratitude and joy if only we will see and appreciate it.”
We aren’t victims of our circumstances. We don’t have to be tossed to and fro in the situations that present themselves to us. You have agency, choice, and the ability to rise above these earthly circumstances and show up the way you choose to.
Ponder these words from Uchtdorf today:
“We would do well to slow down a little, proceed at the optimum speed for our circumstances, focus on the significant, lift up our eyes, and truly see the things that matter most.”
Focus on the significant. SLOW DOWN – pause – make mindful, conscious choices instead of constantly reacting. What’s the saying? Will it matter in 5 years? 5 days? 5 hours? 5 minutes?
What a beautiful gift that we can choose to rise above the world around us and choose what matters most.
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